What Really Happened In The Boston Massacre?

Discussion Section Week 5:

Discovering the American Past, Chapter 4

What Really Happened in the Boston Massacre? The Trial of Captain Thomas Preston


1-Page response paper due at the beginning of discussion section. Double-Spaced, use one-inch margins, and 12 point Times New Roman font. Write on the following prompt:


The British Empire had just finished fighting the costly Seven Years’ War with the French, racking up massive debts. To pay off these debts the British imposed a series of taxes on the Colonists. While the British viewed this as fair for defending the Americans from French attacks in Canada, the Americans viewed this as too heavy a burden. In order to enforce these taxes the British continued to send more troops and overseers into New England, which enraged many Americans, who were accustomed to nearly autonomous governing. This tension would cause the deaths of five Bostonians in a scuffle with a British garrison.



Your assignment is to argue what you think actually happened. Were Captain Preston and his men just defending themselves? Or did they fire into an unarmed or at least mostly harmless crowd? To do this, identify two witnesses’ testimonies which you believe are accurate, and two witnesses who you believe are inaccurate. Pay attention to how close the witnesses are to the actual scene. Pay attention to multiple accounts of the same incident. The closer they are and the more witnesses back up the same story the more reliable it is. Using their testimony, tell us what really happened at ‘The Boston Massacre.’

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